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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

CWC 2008 - the write up!

The day at the fayre was amazing & the push-up contest was (as always) awesome. For a full write-up just click here

Female push-up winner - Hana Bristow 18 reps

Male push-up winner - Dave Arnold 81 reps

Hopefully everyone attending had a fantastic day, we certainly did! I would like to take the time to thank everyone who sponsored the push-up contest by donating prizes (everyone who entered left with a prize :-) & suggest that everyone try & support Animal Aid as they do a fantastic job out there!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Obama responds to vegan question

Here's a quick youtube bit with obama answering a question about plant-based diets:

Here’s the transcript:

Nikki Benoit: “Thank you, Senator, very much for your strong environmental position.

The United Nations actually has reiterated that factory farming is contributing more to global greenhouse gas emissions than all of transportation. I think that as a global community we really need to be the leader and moving more towards non-factory farming animal agriculture. It’s very egregious. There’s 10 billion land animals that we are funneling our precious water and grain through when 70 per cent of all of our grain could help feed the world’s hungry. So, as the next leader of the most amazing nation in the world, how can we set the example on the more nutritional, plant-based diet that’s more eco-friendly and sustainable, that can maintain our water resources and all of our grain. Thank you very much.”

Senator Barack Obama: “Okay. Well, it’s a great question.

Now, I have to say in the interests of full disclosure, that I do like a steak once in a while. I’m just being honest. I like barbecue. I’m not going to lie. But the young lady makes a very important point and that is this: right now, our food system world-wide is under enormous pressure. It’s under enormous pressure because as a consequence of climate change, you’ve had severe changes in weather patterns. We don’t fully understand what these effects are. But, for example, Australia’s had huge drought which has taken a lot of crops. Grain production has been much lower. And supplies are tight. You’re starting to see riots around food in places like Haiti and other poor countries around the world. And what is also true is that as countries like China and India become wealthier, they start changing their food habits; they start eating more meat, more animals. And what happens then is because it takes more grain to produce a pound of beef than if they were just eating the grain, what ends up happening is that it puts huge pressure on food supplies.

Americans would actually benefit from a change in diet. I don’t think that that’s something that we should legislate but I think that it is something that, as part of our overall health care system, we should encourage because, for example if we reduced obesity down to the rates that existed in 1980, we would save the medicare system a trillion dollars. We would reduce diabetes rates. We would reduce heart disease. So, the fact that we subsidize some of these big agribusiness operations that are not necessarily producing healthy food and we discourage, or we don’t subsidize, farmers who are producing fruits and vegetables and small scale farming that gets produce immediately to consumers as opposed to having it processed. The fact that we are not doing more to make sure that healthy food is in the schools. All those things don’t make sense. It is important for us to re-examine our overall food policy so that we’re encouraging good habits and not bad habits. For example, just making sure there are more fruits and vegetables in school lunch programs. That would make an enormous difference in how our children’s diets develop. That would make us healthier over the long term. It would cut our health care costs and maybe it would help people elsewhere in the world, who are in less wealthy countries, feed themselves as well. So, it’s a great question. It’s important.”

The link between malnutrition & violence

Found this bit of useful info about the link between violence & malnutrition here

Strangely enough I was just rereading Bob Hoffman's 1940's book 'Better nutrition' & he was mentioning about meat consumption & how the tribes that ate most where most dominant & violent in certain regions of the world. So, in effect Bob Hoffman could be saying (without realising it) that the higher the meat intake of these tribes the more malnourished they were becoming (through lack of fruits & vegetables), so the more violent they have become!
Violence when being malnourished would be a survival trait. You would need to move to an area where there is more food (which may be occupied by other humans or violent animals), you could reduce your tribe size by violence within the tribe until it was small enough to get enough food to be nourished properly, or you would have to fight to get your share of any nutrition available. It makes a kind of evolutionary sense the more malnourished you are, the more violent you are.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

CWC this Sunday

Don't forget the Christmas without cruelty fayre is this Sunday (30 Nov) 10-5 at Kensington town hall in London (get off at the kensington high street tube).
Exciting extra news. We've got Joni from vegan fitness on the stall (also known as the North west of England Bench Press champion 2008) & he's bringing along some vegan (obviously!) chocolate coated protein bars 22 grams of protein per bar, so keep an eye out for him on the stall (I don't think you'll miss the over 100K of him some how :-).
The annual push-up contest will be being held at 4PM & remember the earlier register for the contest, the later in the event you'll be competing (so you'll know what to beat!), so sign up early.
See you there!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Illegal to exercise!

In this place it is! You can jog & walk, but stop & stretch out or do a sit-up & get yourself arrested

Saturday, 22 November 2008

A review: Muscle, Smoke & Mirrors vol 1 by Randy Roach

Here's a quick summary of the above book. Basically before we start this book was funded by the Weston Price foundation, so we kind of have an idea exactly which direction this book is going to take & where the main focus is going to be turned before we even open the pages (we all know about the Weston Price Foundation & their anti-veg stance).

First of all the book opens in the early days of strongman (Sandow et al), & on to Barnarr McFadden (& that silly veggie diet he promoted-yep, a negative view straight from the start), then takes a quick swerve to suddenly include the dentist Weston Price (who up until this moment history has never mentioned as being so important in the physical culture movement :-), but according to this book, he appears as an almost pivotal figure, there is a brief mention of Robert McCarrison & his study of the virtually veggie Hunza, but that is soon passed over as we moved back to the momentous events of Dr Price!

This book makes a few errors in their timings in my view. It is implied that any interest in vegetarian living is just about replaced by the high (meat) protein diet by the 1940's (possibly only slowed by war time rations in the UK & Europe-although this isn't mentioned), but in the 1940 Bob Hoffman book "Better Nutrition" He clearly states that a lot of his mail to the magazine "Strength & Health" is still concerned with having more articles on vegetarian eating & planning vegetarian bodybuilding diets! Not quite so dead really (& Hoffman is a renowned "anti-veg", so for him to confess that must have been difficult). As a side note I believe it was actually Hoffman & the introduction of steroids that really hit vegetarian physical culture movement, keeping these drugs secret while Hoffman could show his athletes success story on the 'Hoffman diet' that was high meat & dairy, but as I said that's just a theory, but the dates do seem to fit rather nicely & Hoffman did basically own both the bodybuilding & weightlifting community at that time.

Anyway, back to the story, the next anti-veg statement is first a story about how amazing Armand Tanny (Mr America 1950) is eating a diet of predominantly raw meat (something Armand only admitted publicly only later), which he accepts, without question & yet when Roy Hilligenn (Mr America 1951 & pound for pound the strongest clean & jerk in the world ever-according to some sources) admits to being a life vegetarian who has never consumed an animal in his life he basically calls the guy a liar (because you can't get big &/or strong without meat-that's about the perfect example of circular logic as you're going to find!). It then goes on about how the high (meat) protein diet really improved physiques, with some mention of steroids. He also takes issue with Bill Pearl & his disservice to the sport by giving up meat & goes on to say that Bill is wrong as there are substances in meat that are vital (classic Weston Price Foundation propaganda with no basis in truth). Mr Roach also calls Bill Pearl a liar about his steroid use (which Bill admits taking), but he's always said he gave them up towards the end of his career, which Mr Roach discounts without proof (as it would also mean a veggie, ex-steroid taker could compete against the best in the world, which to Mr Roach's eyes is impossible, as you cannot be big & strong without eating meat - again note the circular logic - it cannot be true because you cannot build or maintain a big body without meat, so he must have eaten meat???).

I know a small bit about oldtime physical culture & even my limited knowledge could pick flaws in the book. From the early days when George Hackenschmit mentions in his book "The way to live" published in the early 20th century that he knew many vegetarian men who were very strong (so is George a liar as well-George was a meat eater, with no reason to lie about what he knew), right up to Guys like Bill Pearl competing on a veggie diet or Doug Hepburn fighting back to health from alcohol & drug abuse on a vegetarian diet to set records in strength in his 70's that not many men in their peak could match! Are all these people liars? Did they all secretly consume their steaks? Why would they even bother to lie, there is no gain in them lying. Bill Pearl won't get any extra glory by saying he was a veggie than he has already, what did Doug Hepburn gain by saying he became veggie? These guys out there & many others who may not be quite in that strength league, but plug away in gyms week in/week out go to PROVE you don't actually need any animal product to become big & strong. Certain there is no substance in meat that is vital to human survival & health as the Weston Price Foundation have touted in the past.

Now before you go away thinking I didn't actually enjoy the book or find it useful, you'd be wrong! Despite the (in my view) inaccuracies & the dismissive attitude to anything that didn't fit the Weston Price view of the world, let me say it did open up several new avenues of research for me & was quite an enjoyable read (if you like old-time physical culture stuff like I do). Also I have focussed on the negatives I found in the books, the points I believe that reflect the Weston Price Foundation involvement (not to say Mr Roach 'doctored' his research, just that his interpretations are coloured by his own beliefs - as are all of ours). The majority of the book, when outside the obvious anti-veg stance, is a great read. It also made me consider that maybe it's time to actually try & find those original works by Dr Western Price & Dr Robert McCarrison for the beginning of the 20th Century & see what the guys themselves had to say about the Hunza people & there virtually veggie lifestyle (& amazing health) & Dr Weston Price & his studies of people who ate a predominantly meat based diet (I'm not sure what Dr Price exactly even measured-I know he was a dentist, & I have heard mentioned that it was actually the teeth he studied predominately, but I'll find both their works at some point soon & see what they actually did find during their studies).

I’d say overall it is a good book to read, but bear in mind it does have an agenda of its own, like any publication funded by an organisation with certain goals in mind. But I’d still buy it if you like reading about the greats of old-time physical culture.

Friday, 14 November 2008

The arm experiment...the beginning

I've been reading Coach John Christy's book "Real Strength Real Muscle”. He advocates micro-loading for a long time, using the same exercise. As a challenge he offers you a chance to prove for yourself whether his system works, by using the humble barbell curl. His challenge was simple pick a weight you can get 3 sets of 7 reps (3x7) with, but only do 3x6 (for week 1). Rest 5 full minutes between sets. Next week add 1 pound. That’s it! The trick is you do that every week for 1 whole year (52 weeks), & if you’re still gaining after that move down to ½ a pound a week, then continue on until you stall. He believes you’ll gain anything up to 2 inches (or more!) on your arms by following this simple formula.
OK what about illness, we all get sick, right. Well that’s covered. Any minor illness that makes you miss a session simply drop the weight to 80-90% what you were doing, then add 5% each session until you’re back up to 100%, then back to the pound a week.
I not completely convinced (or completely disbelieving) about this system, but I thought, I’ve never done very long term micro-loading & keeping to one bodypart means I can see how that fares against the rest of me & how I have been growing (I didn’t fancy the idea of being stuck with EVERY exercise being long-term micro-loading as I get bored with any exercise & like some variation, but I can do a curl with a barbell once a week no problems for a year, so we’ll see how it goes (you could use an EZ bar or similar if you prefer, but stick to the one you choose as bar weights differ).
If anyone else wants to jump onboard with this let me know (as accountability is a real aid to motivation) & I will need the odd reminder to stay with one exercise, without variation, for a whole year!
So barring any illness or injury you’ll be looking at me adding 1 pound per week until I stall or the 52 weeks end.
Bring it on!!!!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

I've got to get me one of these!

I've never, ever seen one of these peg boards before, maybe they're
more common in the US, but I've never seen one...I WANT! Got no idea
where I'd put such a thing, but man they look cool to do :-)

The guy doing it in a weighted vest...AWESOME!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

you ever wonder...?

...what would happen to those guys if they ever gave up the steroids & stopped training completely...
well have a look at these 2 youtube clips


I personally would have hoped the guy would have tried to keep in some sort of shape, he had fans (& in my view that translates to responsibilty). I mean obviously the size would slip with ending the gear, but with his natural design he'd have slipped into a great drug-free physique, if he'd kept the diet & training going. maybe the loss of strength & size was too much so he had to back away competely from fitness in any form? I was a little disappointed to see one of the great physiques slip down like this, but I'm biased I like bodybuilding, natural & unnatural, it's kind of like art, the aestetics appeal to me, I suppose it would be like someone doing a great painting, then slashing it up, sure it's theirs, they can do it, but it's disappointing no one will be able view it as it was.
think I've gone on enough on that one....

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Fantastic Elastic?

We’ve all seen them, maybe you’ve used them? People love them or hate them. I’m talking about the resistance band. Resistance bands can be used for a host of things. Rehab, activation work, adding resistance to bodyweight training, used in place of weights, mimicking strand pulling moves, right up to adding substantial resistance to heavy squats, deadlifts, shoulder press or bench press work.
I’ve personally found bands to be great for dynamic work (improving acceleration of certain moves) & for certain rehab. Although certain conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome & fibromyalgia don’t usually respond so well to band work, for many conditions it’s a real boon! (with any medical condition consult your doctor before trying them out)
Most of the activation exercises I’m presently working with I’ve learnt from reading the works of guys like Mike Boyle & Eric Cressey, if anyone is particularly interested I can bring someone in to film a couple moves, but both these guys cover his stuff much more fully than I do. I have found activation exercises useful for preparing to lift & although I don’t agree 100% with these guys about everything, I’d say the case for learning to activate the right muscles at the right time does help with lifting & I do use it myself. So, if you want a few activation protocols let me know & I’ll drag a camera person over to film a few basic activation moves using bands & bodyweight.
I have found some use for dynamic training of various exercises both to improve acceleration & just for a change of modality while still focussing upon a particular movement. Here I’ve pictured a couple of set-ups I’ve used with some success. One is the dynamic box squat using a safety squat bar (you could use a straight bar, but I prefer the SSB for this exercise);

The other is the dynamic dumbbell shoulder press (in this case using a jumpstretch platform). This is actually quite a challenge for the core as well as the delts & triceps.

Unfortunately, being a somewhat reclusive trainee I often train alone, so therefore you can only see the set-up, not the bands in action, but I’m sure the idea is clear enough, the bands stretch & so as you lift the apparent weight increases, so you are forced to accelerate harder to achieve you goals, by doing this you learn to accelerate HARD, which is what you need to improve your lifting. By the way ‘accelerating hard’ will not translate into moving quickly when you get heavier, sure with lighter weights you’ll move relatively fast, but once a heavier weight is lifted the extra acceleration you’ve learnt will really help you get a lift you previously failed to master.
If you’re interested in other moves using bands before you rush out & purchase some leave a comment & I’ll see what I can do about doing some of those (photos or maybe youtube if you don’t mind crumby stills camera video quality), so any band questions let me know & hopefully this will be another tool in your training box you can have fun with over the colder months.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Off the Hoof magazine

A new vegan/veggie magazine hits the stands today.
Off the Hoof is light hearted & more exciting than the average vegan magazine. It also has bits from me in it regularly, as well as interviews of fitness, sporty & health names from around the world, rants from Maz the Gob & at around 100 pages plenty of other stuff.
You can subscribe by going to

Postage is free within the UK, but even those outside will enjoy it I expect as it offers something very different to the world of magazines.

Oh yea & issue 1 has an interview with Robbie Hazeley the vegan bodybuilder in it!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Cissus quadrangularis: one plant - many answers

Sometimes something comes along that is so good it’s hard to believe. Imagine a plant that has been in safe use for centuries. One that heals bones & joint problems, lessens pain without side effects can aid in the healing of overuse injuries, help solve gastrointestinal issues such as ulcers or acid reflux, is full of antioxidants & vitamins, can help with fat issues. Would you pay for a product like that? Of course you would & to be honest so would a lot of us.
Well you’re in luck because this isn’t some fantasy of an ideal supplement but a real plant that has been in use & is recorded in ancient Ayurvedic texts & has been shown by modern medicine to be completely safe. Cissus quadrangularis is that plant (we’ll call it Cissus from now on just to save the extra typing :-). The science gets a little tricky & much of the reasoning behind what it does is a little speculative, but it gets results, even if the science behind this wonder plant isn’t fully understood. First of all it gives pain relief & anti inflammatory effect at around the level of aspirin or ibuprofen, note the effect is slower to come on, but it lasts & without any side effects associated with these drugs (1,2).
The bulk of the studies on Cissus has been on the repair of bone & these have shown that bone is healed at a highly accelerated rate (3,4,5). Some studies have used cortisol to stimulate bone breakdown & Cissus appears to halt the effect of this hormone on the bones. So, interestingly if cortisol is halted in bone tissue, what about muscle tissue where it has a similar breakdown effect? So, far there are no studies on this possiblity as far I know, but it’s one I have got my eye out for as the implications of a totally safe, natural anti-cortisol product that is actually beneficial is a very real possibility.
One of the primary effects of Cissus is thought to be an increase in collagen turnover, so with increased synthesis & replacement you could expect quicker recover from overuse injuries, cartilage & tendon repair & this seems to be the case through anecdotal evidence although as yet no formal research has been done in this area beyond the probable finding in bone research studies that it seems to be increased collagen repair that seems to be a major factor (3,4,5).
As well as these benefits you also get a product that is packed full of antioxidants & antimicrobial substances (6)
Let’s look at the ‘side effects’ now. First off is fat control. Cissus tends to make you leaner (7,8) The treatment of ulcers & acid reflux (9), it will ease ulcers & reduce or relieve completely acid reflux. There is also anecodotal evidence that after 15-20 days continuous usage there is increased blood flow to the muscles & so bigger pumps. This effect isn’t universal, nor is it proven scientifically, but a certain proportion of users seems to be getting this result, enough reports to make it seem worth a mention.
So basically you get a product that will help control pain with no side effects (for the vast majority of users), will aid bone health, appears to help joints & connective tissue, is packed with usable nutrients, antioxidants & antimicrobials, can aid stomach issues, can make you leaner & might well give you massive pumps. Do you really want anything more from one supplement?
Dosage & type is the final issue I’d like to cover. First of all there are a selection of preparations available out there. The active ingredient is said to be Ketosterone & there are many amounts out there from 5% Ketosterone to up to 50% in some capsules. So, you’d think the higher the dose, the better. But in my view this is wrong. Cissus is a plant extract, like many such products there are a vast number of phytonutrients that work synergistically together to produce an effect much greater than the whole. The purer, higher grade ketosterone lacks many of these nutrients & so could possibly be less effective than the less pure alternative. I would aim at a product around the 6% ketosterone mark myself, it is levels around this purity that many studies have used & so the effects are known & there’s little guess work. As for dosage, between 3-6grams per day seems to have the desired effect (although the very small or very large may need to modify the dosage up or down slightly depending upon their need) . An average sized adult should be aiming at around the 5 gram mark. Take half first thing in the morning & half in the evening. You can take it with food or without. I tend to take it away from food, but I don’t know if there is any reason you should avoid food, but it fits my timing plan well.
Are there ANY downsides? Well, there is one obvious one, & that is taste. It takes a few days to adjust to the taste. Some of you might want to cap them yourselves (or buy pre-made capsules), but realistically if you stick with it for a few days you soon adjust. It smells worse than it tastes, so don’t sniff before you drink! I suppose the other possible bad effect could be you are a non-responder or maybe an allergy, but apart from that I can’t think of any reason not to give it a try.

1 Indian Journal of Pharmacology 1984 Vol 16, issue 3 pages 162-163. An experimental study of analgesic activity of Cissus quadrangularis. SP Singh, N Misra, KS Dixit, N Singh, RP Kohli
2 J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Mar 21;110(2):264-70. Epub 2006 Sep 26. Analgesic, anti-inflammatory and venotonic effects of Cissus quadrangularis Linn. Panthong A, Supraditaporn W, Kanjanapothi D, Taesotikul T, Reutrakul V.
3 J Indian Med Assoc. 1962 Jun 1;38:590-3. Cissus quadrangularis in healing of fractures. A clinical study. Udupa KN, Prasad GC
4Indian J Med Res. 1975 Jun;63(6):824-8. Studies on Cissus quadrangularis in experimental fracture repair: effect on chemical parameters in blood. Chopra SS, Patel MR, Gupta LP, Datta IC.
5 Indian J Med Res. 1976 Sep;64(9):1365-8. Studies of Cissus quadrangularis in experimental fracture repair : a histopathological study. Chopra SS, Patel MR, Awadhiya RP.
6 J Med Food. 2003 Summer;6(2):99-105. Antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of Cissus quadrangularis L. Chidambara Murthy KN, Vanitha A, Mahadeva Swamy M, Ravishankar GA.
7 Lipids Health Dis. 2006 Sep 2;5:24. The use of a Cissus quadrangularis formulation in the management of weight loss and metabolic syndrome. Oben J, Kuate D, Agbor G, Momo C, Talla X.
8 Lipids Health Dis. 2008 Mar 31;7:12. The use of a Cissus quadrangularis/Irvingia gabonensis combination in the management of weight loss: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Oben JE, Ngondi JL, Momo CN, Agbor GA, Sobgui CS.
9 Journal of Medicinal Food. September 1, 2004, 7(3): 372-376. doi:10.1089/jmf.2004.7.372. Mallika Jainu, C.S. Shyamala Devi.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Nutrient timing - ISSN position

here's some research pre-published on pubmed today stating the updated ISSN positon on nutrient timing. They pretty much lay down what we've talked about during our discussions on nutrient intake during & after training. We haven't really discussed pre-training nutrition, which is important. I'll have to get around to that, but it's mentioned here & I pretty much support the idea of carb/protein ingestion before training (exactly when depends on your digestive capabilities, but 1-2 hours before would be my advice if possible)
Here you can read for yourself:

J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008 Oct 3;5(1):17.

International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing.

Kerksick C, Stout J, Campbell B, Wilborn C, Kreider R, Kalman D, Ziegenfuss T, Lopez H, Landis J, Ivy J, Antonio J.

ABSTRACT: Position Statement: The position of the Society regarding nutrient timing and the intake of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in reference to healthy, exercising individuals is summarized by the following eight points: 1.) Maximal endogenous glycogen stores are best promoted by following a high-glycemic, high-carbohydrate (CHO) diet (600 - 1000 grams CHO or ~ 8 - 10 g CHO/kg/d), and ingestion of free amino acids and protein (PRO) alone or in combination with CHO before resistance exercise can maximally stimulate protein synthesis. 2.) During exercise, CHO should be consumed at a rate of 30 - 60 grams of CHO/hour in a 6 - 8 % CHO solution (8 - 16 fluid ounces) every 10 - 15 minutes. Adding PRO to create a CHO:PRO ratio of 3 - 4:1 may increase endurance performance and maximally promotes glycogen re-synthesis during acute and subsequent bouts of endurance exercise. 3.) Ingesting CHO alone or in combination with PRO during resistance exercise increases muscle glycogen, offsets muscle damage, and facilitates greater training adaptations after either acute or prolonged periods of supplementation with resistance training. 4.) Post-exercise (within 30 minutes) consumption of CHO at high dosages (8 - 10 g CHO/kg/day) have been shown to stimulate muscle glycogen re-synthesis, while adding PRO (0.2 g - 0.5 g PRO/kg/day) to CHO at a ratio of 3 - 4:1 (CHO: PRO) may further enhance glycogen re-synthesis. 5.) Post-exercise ingestion (immediately to 3 h post) of amino acids, primarily essential amino acids, has been shown to stimulate robust increases in muscle protein synthesis, while the addition of CHO may stimulate even greater levels of protein synthesis. Additionally, pre-exercise consumption of a CHO + PRO supplement may result in peak levels of protein synthesis. 6.) During consistent, prolonged resistance training, post-exercise consumption of varying doses of CHO + PRO supplements in varying dosages have been shown to stimulate improvements in strength and body composition when compared to control or placebo conditions. 7.) The addition of creatine (Cr) (0.1 g Cr/kg/day) to a CHO + PRO supplement may facilitate even greater adaptations to resistance training. 8.) Nutrient timing incorporates the use of methodical planning and eating of whole foods, nutrients extracted from food, and other sources. The timing of the energy intake and the ratio of certain ingested macronutrients are likely the attributes which allow for enhanced recovery and tissue repair following high-volume exercise, augmented muscle protein synthesis, and improved mood states when compared with unplanned or traditional strategies of nutrient intake.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Hardest email in a while

Before I start I would like to say I will not put up anyone’s private issues without first asking permission, so I have asked to put this up before I published.
I got an email the other day from a person who had suffered from anaphylactic shock due to eating a nut coated cereal & as a result had lost the ability to produce saliva & a host of new allergies. They had been through the medical system, trying doctors & nutritionists with no success. They had been forced to eat liquidised food & chocolate (which they sucked), their weight had plummeted due to lack of calories & limited nutrition. One nutritionist suggested they add cream to their liquidised cream, but when informed they had developed an allergy to all dairy products was told they couldn’t help them & to go away! (I was personally shocked that anyone calling themselves a nutritionist was so limited they couldn’t devise a liquid based eating plan without the option of dairy!).
So, our emailer was left with nowhere to turn for help by the medical system so they turned to the internet.
Anyway, I’m not sure how many people they approached before they found our pages, but hopefully we could offer some help. As it happens the ‘bodybuilding’ side of came in very useful for this. When you get a dieting bodybuilder they often ingest a fare amount of calories as liquid, so we have a range of liquid options in place for people to ingest. Also knowing & working with those in the raw food market we also have a keen eye on ‘super foods’ available on the market like algae’s & wholefood powders that would work in a liquid diet.
Obviously living on a liquid diet wasn’t a long term solution, but our first job had to be to get their immediate nutrition sorted out. This is also a time I suggested keeping IN an animal product as they could eat liquidised chicken soup & I had real concerns that if they dropped the chicken out of the soup they might die! If they decided they didn’t need the chicken later, then they could remove it at a later date, but until they were on the mend I suggested they keep it in.
They also believed that artificial sweeteners had made the illness much worse. I’m not sure if the research is out there to back up that particular claim, but I certainly advice against the use artificial sweeteners where possible as they have been implied in quite a few conditions & it appears only the power of the companies backing these products that keeps them from being investigated thoroughly, if not banned.
So, we have a person here with no saliva & on an inadequate liquidised diet, suffering dangerous weightloss & multiple allergies, so here’s what I offered in the way of advice. Hopefully if anyone else out there is suffering related problems this might help you too:
As you suggested I can't actually diagnose. I am a qualified sports
nutritionist & personal trainer & I am taking a nutritional
consultancy course, which, when completed would allow me to recommend
food stuffs for you directly, but to recommend what you could do at
the moment could lead to barring as both a trainer & failing my course
(for diagnosing without a qualification). However, what I can do is
suggest what I could do. The first thing I would do is look towards
the raw food market & natural body building fields as they've brought
out some interesting stuff:
Vega by Brenden Brazier is a protein powder
plus it contains quite a few other nutrients
Raw power is another product you might want to look into
Here's a few others from vegan essentials to look at

OK there's a couple of complete food replacements. Let's look at what
else I'd need if I had your condition:

For just protein/calories I would consider a simple protein powder.
There are many out there. Like Soya protein, pea protein, rice
protein, hemp protein I've got a list of supplement sellers on this
page many of whom sell various protein powders ). To those I would add
certain things:

EFA's - these are essential fatty acids. One of the reasons you
probably aren't thinking too well is lack of calories, but also lack of
EFA's. The brain is predominantly made of fat, cutting off this fat
makes thinking pretty hard (as you imagine), so you will need to find a
source you can tolerate. Udo's blend is available in most places
around the world in the fridge of your local health food store. It
can be mixed with a shake or taken off the spoon, but you do need this
daily. I would aim at a couple of tablespoons a day, that could be
split over several meals if necessary.

B-complex (containing B12) - I would find a capsule that contains this
(I think vegan essentials sells some? ) &
either add these to your shakes, or open the capsule & swill the
powder around in your mouth for 1 minute before swallowing.

Spirulina or algae - I would consider investing in some form of algae
that can be added to your food. These foods have loads of nutrients
for the amount you take, so it may cost a bit, but you'll probably
Again I'll give you a vegan essentials link, but if you look around
there are many companies selling these sorts of things, so look around
& try out a few, then I'd find things I like

The soups are a good idea. I would stick with those, but I would also
invest in a juicer. I wouldn't so much juice the sweet fruits, but
things like green leafy vegetables, carrots, etc - basically all the
vegetables you have on the side of a plate in a normal meal. I would
need to buy more than the average consumer as there will be a lot of
waste (you throw away a good deal when you juice), but it will get
some nutrition into me. I would have as at least one juice with every
meal. I would have one sweet juiced drink per day only, the others
all savoury type juices based around leafy vegetables.

I'm not sure how often you eat right now, but I would be planning on
upping your eating to around 6-8 times a day. You wouldn't need to
eat much, a soup with juice, a shake with juice, but basically every 2
hours I would plan on getting nutrition down me. It is possible to
pre-prepare juices, by juicing a lot of stuff AM & putting a days
worth of juice in the fridge, then drinking as its needed, shakes take
about 5 minutes to put together, get a stick mixer & a large container
(like a shaker they sell to mix protein drinks in your health food
store) & just whiz them up with the added oil &/ algae etc if they are
required that day.

Simple things you can add to shakes that bump up the calories. I
assume you had your problems with PEANUTS? but there are other nuts
out there. In your health food store there are nut butters, tahini &
I would invest in those & consider adding some of those to a shake,
also wheatgerm oil is a cheap oil you might want to add, debittered
brewers yeast is packed with nutrients.

If a person isn't producing saliva they are also not producing the
enzyme that first works on food on the way down to the stomach, so I
would invest in some digestive enzymes. Yes, they are a tablet, so no
good for you, but you can whiz then up in the food, so they completely
break up (something that could also be done with vitamin/mineral
pills by the way).

I would plan on only eating chocolate after a meal. I would get what
I NEED first, before I have what I want. The shakes, soups & juices
would be my nutritional safety net. Next the chocolate will add some
calories, but little else really. You can buy dairy-free chocolate
that gives you more antioxidants & without the bad effects of the milk
(milk is an allergen & some nutritionists say it heightens any allergic
response), most supermarkets & healthfood stores now sell a variety of
dark chocolate that is nutritionally far superior to the dairy bars
out there. Chicken probably isn't an allergen, so won't make the
problem any worse. There are other options like adding beans, tofu,
tempeh etc, but I wouldn't like to shrink your food intake anymore
than it already is at the moment, so I would consider adding those in
as other options, rather than just having chicken soup all the time.
You can always lose the chicken once you've got your eating sorted

Once I was up to eating 6-8 times a day. My next course would be to
begin introducing solid food. Basically I would follow a weaning
plan, just like you do with a baby. Start with things like mashed
banana & steamed mashed carrot etc & work up, just like you do with a
small child. There is no reason your body cannot, given time re-learn
to produce saliva. Everything is there, it's just shut down.
Anaphylactic shock cannot destroy the salivary ducts or production
centres, just close them down, so it should be possible to get them to
switch back on given time & patience.
The EFA's will help remove damaging chemicals, heavy metals etc & the
extra nutrition by eating regularly would help a lot. After all that
was in place & I was comfortable with that eating plan I would begin
weaning. One meal would start with a little mashed banana or steamed
mashed carrot before the meal & slowly increase from there. I would
swill it around my mouth for a bit, try & remind the saliva glands to
do their thing :-) It will probably take time, but hopefully things
would slowly return to normal.

That would be my basic plan that I'd use towards recovery. My aim
would be to reactivate my saliva glands & get back to solid food. I
wouldn't rush the process, but I would head in that direction over
Once I felt I was on track for recovery I would also consider some
weight training as I would have lost a lot of muscle mass & strength.
Obviously I wouldn't be lifting massive weights, but most people male
or female in show-business or modelling use weights these days to keep
in shape & the fat low. Obviously I'd have to get the nutrition in
place first & feel ready before I started that though, at the moment,
in your position, I would focus on getting the nutrition in place

Hopefully looking at what I would do in your position has given you a
few ideas of your own & anything else just let me know.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Tiredness during workouts

I get quite a few emails a week about various issues & as I try to answer everyone who mails in. I suddenly thought today why not put up some issues that some of you might have & my suggestions. Well here's the first. This guy contacted me suffering from lack of endurance during workouts. Like most mails I get, it doesn't cover a lot of the issues that I really need to zero in on a problem, but it gave me a chance to give some general advice on what bases you should have covered if you suffered general fatigue - especially during or soon after exercise:


Let's start with the basics & work from there. Basically what I would
do is implement only 1 thing & see if that's the cause, if not keep on
with that & add the next. You can try out any, or all, of the things I
mention, but it's best if you find the cause, so you're not stuck
thinking you need to do everything on the list, as I suspect you
First the most important for your health is B12, if you're not taking
it, you need to. I have all my trainees; meat-eaters, veggies, vegans
& raw food eaters take B12 daily. There is a technique to taking B12,
that isn't common knowledge. Under the tongue & at the back of the
throat are modified lymph capillaries, these can absorb (amongst other
things) B12 directly into the blood stream (via the lymphatic system).
So, the best way to take vitamin B12 is to buy a capsule or pill
containing B12 & B-complex, open the capsule or crush the pill & swill
the contents around your mouth for about 1 minute before swallowing,
that way you get a lot more B12 into you than just swallowing the
pill/capsule straight down. If you are low in B12 it will take a
while to feel the effects, as it needs to slowly get back into all the
trillions of cells in your body. one final point don't take B12 with
vitamin C pills, the C disrupts b12 assimilation, so if you are taking
both leave a little time between taking the two things (you can take
low level vitamin C, like in a multi vitamin/mineral pill with B12,
but not something like a 500mg + pill).
The second thing you need to address is your EFA (Essential fatty acid
levels & ratios). Most people are low in the omega 3 fatty acid
group. Most nuts, seeds & oils contain high levels of omega 6 fatty
acids, but are low in omega 3's. To balance this up I recommend that
you get hold of a cheap coffee grinder & every morning grind up 1 or 2
tablespoons of flax seed (linseed), you can add it to a morning shake,
to cereal, to porridge or just mix with soya milk & drink it,
whatever. You can add it to any hot thing, but do NOT heat it, always
add it after you've finished heating the product or you'll damage the
fats & waste your time.

The two things above are the 2 basics everyone should be doing
regardless of anything else. From now on expect to be doing this
every day!

Let's assume these are not the problem for you. The next obvious
thing is your diet. First off how often do you eat & when do you eat.
You should be splitting your eating into 6 feeds a day:

Mid-morning snack
Mid-afternoon snack

You should try & get decent food down you for every feed, not junk.
Plan on having a 'cheat' meal once or twice a week, like if you are
going to a party having one or two drinks & a few roasted nuts or
crisps (chips if you're from the US). That will be ok, providing the
rest of the week you're pretty strict & plan out your eating so you're
getting healthy food down you for most of the time.
Let's get to the workout nutrition specifics:


About an hour or 2 before you workout the meal you have should have
some protein & contain complex carbs. The carbs will give you energy
to finish your workout.
The exact timing depends on your digestion. People digest at
different speeds, so workout how long it takes after a meal before you
feel ready to hit some weights.

I've covered my ideas on workout nutrition on the vegan bodybuilding
blog on this page
click here & click here

Post workout nutrition is THE most vital feed of the day. My views on
that are also on the blog on this page click here

Bear in mind these are what I'd consider IDEAL intakes, you don't need
all the supplements, but having at least some protein powder & a
simple carb source for when you train is a good idea. I don't
recommend any specific protein powder, soya, pea, hemp, rice protein
powders all work, for a simple carb source I tend to go for red grape
juice. It's high in glucose, contains antioxidants & other
phyto-chemicals that are useful to the body. I personally only use it
for training, so I freeze a carton of red grape juice into icecubes.
I add 1 or 2 cubes to my drink during training, then several cubes to
my after training drink.

Next up we'll move onto recovery. First off have there been any
changes in your life. Increased stress, different working or
recreational activities? Are you sleeping ok? Any other changes in
your life that could account for a loss in training ability? Have a
think, try & pinpoint any changes, next see what you can do to change
The other option is could it be you training? Have you changed that,
have you been doing the same thing for a long time? Strangely enough
these 2 things can have similar effects on the body. If you've been
doing the same thing for a long time, your body gets stale & you need
to change your routine, if you've recently changed your routine it may
be that you aren't thriving on the new system & need to change things
up a bit.

Let me give you a few examples of possible issues, if they apply to
you, then think about how you can change things:

1/ Your working hard at work & the training on top is just wearing you out?
A/ Try an abbreviated routine of 1 or 2 exercises & see how you get
on. Focussing upon just a few exercises hard is better than many exercises in
a lacklustre manner.

2/ You're not eating properly?
A/ Today plan out your eating, get to the shops, buy the food you're
going to need & from tomorrow switch to a better eating plan. You may
need to cut back on training duration for a while as you recover, or
even take a few extra days off while internal supplies of nutrients build up.

3/ Haven't been using the proper nutrition before, during & after training?
A/ Getting these in place will increase your training intensity &
recovery. Expect good results over the next few weeks!

4/ Stress in my life is very high?
A/ If you can sort out the underlying issues you should be working on
getting the problems sorted out, if possible. If that is unfeasible
at the moment (such as work/domestic issues etc), then consider
abbreviating your training to allow for more recovery. Consider some
stress management practices such as meditation, positive
re-enforcement, visualisations etc.

5/ Inconsistent training?
A/ Write a plan you can stick to. Give yourself something that will
motivate you. Plan goals, short term, mid-term & long term, write
them down & maybe even tell someone. That will drive you towards your

Finally we'll move onto supplements. These do have their place, but
only after everything else is in place. They SUPPLEMENT your other
efforts. In order of importance I rate:

Protein powder
beta alanine
citrulline malate

Although I do try out others as part of my research (you can't really
write about things without having tried them out), these are the one's
I've found work for most of my clients & myself. Let's look at these
a little more closely:

Protein powder:
You can take this whenever. A small amount during training & also
taking 30grams or so after training are the most vital, but you can
have them as part of a meal or snack.

I've found this to be an excellent immune booster & recovery aid in
both myself & clients. I tend to recommend that it's vital pre-post
workout, & if you feel the need AM/PM 5 grams per serving seems around
right for most people.

These are basically a fuel source doing activity. The body burns
these as well as fats & carbs during any activity, so having them
before/during training can spare these amino acids. Why do we want to
'spare' them? Well the main source of BCAA's is the amino acids in
muscle. So, by exercising you are burning muscle! Taking BCAA's you
can offer the body an alternative source, so the muscle isn't going to
be broken down to be burnt as fuel.

I'll start off by saying I prefer creatine ethyl ester (CEE). To be
honest there is no reliable research to prove this is the most
effective version of creatine, but anecdotally just about all the
bodybuilders I've met & talked with backstage at bodybuilding shows
over the last few years have moved over to CEE & I myself have found
it more effective than other versions out there. You can take
whichever form you prefer though. Follow the dosing rules on the
package, but if you are trying out creatine monohydrate (CM) then
don't bother with the loading phase as it's just likely to cause you
cramps & bloating as anything else, go straight to maintainence levels
8 weeks on 4 weeks off.

beta alanaine:
Basically this increases strength & muscular endurance & delays
fatigue. A lot of guys are stacking this with creatine.

Citrulline malate
Another one that delays fatigue, but also can possibly increase NO
production. Also increases arginine levels more than taking arginine
directly. So, you can possibly get the increased pumps associated
with arginine with this product without the associated risk to herpes
(cold sore) sufferers.
That was one reply I gave to a guy who had a problem & thought it might of interest to some of you out there?
Often, especially the new vegan can feel added fatigue. This is usually down to the fact that vegan food is less calorifically dense that a meat based diet (you need to eat more folks!). In most cases increasing the amount on your plate &/or adding more feeds per day will sort out your tiredness. I often hear excuses like the flora in your digestive tract is changing, you’re detoxifying etc. This might be true, but more often than not the actual cause, when we get down to real-world fixes is to eat MORE. Pick healthy food & keep an eye on your protein intake, like anyone training you do, in my view, need a decent amount of protein. Keep your protein up & calories high & you tend to lessen these fatigue symptoms. Finally, if you’re suffering on your diet, you are doing something wrong, don’t suffer, or live with it, get it sorted out! Seek advice about nutrition from someone who’s had some experience with vegan athletes or nutrition for very active people.
For some useful advice you could try asking on the veganbodybuilding email list we have nutritionists, competing bodybuilders, powerlifters & strongman competitors click here

Monday, 22 September 2008

J.C.Hise - a new perspective?

Over the years & my fondness for old time physical culture I've read some articles by J.C.Hise, but today I read this from a guy who was in direct contact with the man & here is a few of his thoughts:

"...He often spoke of the Eastern doctrine of ahimsa. This is living your life so that you never harm any creature..."

There’s much anecdotal evidence, some of which is supported by epidemiological studies, that those races or peoples who stay strong and healthy even in extreme old age live on diets that are low in calories but high in nutritive value. In particular, those populations that consume diets that primarily consist of fruits and vegetables have healthy blood pressure, low glucose levels and low total serum cholesterol levels..."

Now I've read a little about Hise in my time & a couple of things struck me as odd:

First of all Hise was never really what you'd call a low calorie guy...In fact I've read several times about the incredible appetite the guy had. Maybe that was the odd occasion & maybe he followed a less hectic eating program most of the time, but had, kind of, binge sessions when going for maximum growth?

The other was his ahimsa attitude. I seem to remember he actually pushing a meat diet (hardly never harming another creature!), but I could be wrong as I'd have to dig through some old magazines to find the articles in question.
I just thought I'd mention a few doubts I have just so you don't uncritically read the article which I did find very interesting.

You can read the article by going here

A few points about Hise, if you've never heard of the man before. He was the first man to use heavy 20 rep squats to build his body. His influence inspired Mark Berry to champion the squat (especially for high reps) & for Peary Rader (editor & owner of ironman magazine) to take up squatting & pushing the idea in his magazines. He inspired Strossen to write the book "Super squats" & used a form of abbreviated training that has been the basis for guys like Stuart McRobert. Basically he is one of the founders of bodybuilding & strength training as we know it, although today mainly forgotten. He invented (or popularised) many exercises, like flat footed, heavy high rep squatting & Hise Shrugs being the most enduring two of his ideas.

Anyway, I have decided to try & find out more about the guy, so I’m going to try & find out if there are any books about his life, useful articles about his philosophy or any other avenues of information I can explore to see if I can discover the true J.C.Hise.

Post workout nutrient intake

Ok before we start I’ve had a few people emailing me about nutrition. I’d just like to point out that these observations are not the definitive answer for your training needs. These observations are an ongoing study that is occurring in the field of training nutrition. I expect they will mutate over time as we gather more information. Also, like everything else, individual variation plays a part as well. So, bear in mind that although these are the finding we can draw from today’s research, there could be some changes over time.

Now on with the show:

Most of the information for this has come from the books “Power Eating” by Kleiner & “Nutrient Timing” by Ivy & Portman & I recommend everyone who has an interest buy both these books.
Like last time we’ll split our plan into first goals we wish to achieve from our Post-workout nutrition:

After training get (or keep) us in an anabolic state
Speed elimination by increasing blood flow
Replenish glycogen stores
Initiate tissue repair
Reduce muscle damage & boost the immune system

First let’s look at how easy it is to fall into a catabolic state

Notice how timing plays such a crucial role in your post exercise nutrition plan. Just a 3 hour delay in getting your post-exercise nutrition can push you into a catabolic state. 1

Insulin levels are also raised most by consuming a protein/carb drink 2. This actually causes blood flow to the muscles to increase, so you get more nutrition to the cells & remove waste faster. 3

For the immunity we have increased levels of plasma L-glutamine when protein-carbohydrate is consumed 4.

Also there is performance enhancement on your following training session when you consume a protein-carbohydrate post workout shake instead of simply carbs 5.

So, you can see there is some evidence about mixing simple carbs & proteins for a post workout recovery drink.

Here are the guides I would suggest at the moment:

Protein 30 grams
High glycemic carbs 40-50 grams
BCAA’s 1-2 grams
L-glutamine 5 grams
Vit c 60-120mg
Vit E 80-400 IU.

The best way to consume these:

Here’s the best way to consume the above after exercise nutrition.

Straight after your exercise, but before your cool-down stretch have your BCAA’s , l-glutamine (also a good time if you supplement with creatine to take that as well).

Now do your cool down

After cool-down now consume your protein-carbs-vitamins.

(NOTE: there has been some possible concern raised about vitamin E & health issues, so these rules may be modified if these prove to have some foundation).

New research recently

New research in the American journal of Physiology, Endocrinology has found that co-ingestion of carbohydrate during recovery does not further stimulate post-exercise muscle protein synthesis when ample protein is ingested 6, which has thrown the whole issue open once again, but this is one study that is against the general tide of research, but do bear in mind that this subject is not a closed book & a definitive answer is still some way off.

1 Levenhagen, D.K., Carr, C., Carlson, M.G.,et al., “Postexercise protein intakeenhances whole-body and leg protein accretion in humans.” Medicine and Science in Sports and exercise, 34: 828-837, 2002.

2 Zawadzki, K.M., Yaspelkis, B.B., Ivy, J.L., “Carbohydrate-protein complex increases the rate of muscle glycogen storage after exercise” Journal of Applied Physiology, 72: 1854-1859, 1992.

3 Laakso, M., Edelman, S.V., Brechtel, G., Baron, A.D., “Decreased effect of insulin to stimulate skeletal muscle blood flow in obese men: a novel method for insulin resistance.” Journal of clinical Investigation, 85: 1844-1852, 1990.

4 van der Schoor, P., et al., “Ingestion of protein hydrolysate prevents the post exercise reduction in plasma glutamate.” International Journal of Sports Medicine, 18: S115, 1997

5 Williams, M.B., Raven, P.B., Donovan, L.F., et al., "Effects of recovery beverage on glycogen restoration and endurance exercise performance," Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 17: 12-19, 2003

6 Koopman R, Beelen M, Stellingwerff T, Pennings B, Saris W.H., Kies A.K., Kuipers H, van Loon L.J., "Coingestion of carbohydrate with protein does not further augment postexercise muscle protein synthesis." American journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and metabolism, Sep;293(3): E833-42, 2007.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Dr Greger talk

Went to a nutrition talk by Dr Greger (vegan MD & nutrition specialist). It was about the latest nutritional research over the last 24 months (06-08). He now recommends DHA (an essential fatty acid) for all people as well as flax & D vitamins. I've actually got a CD of all the research he used in his presentation so if you need any articles about DHA, vit D or latest developments in vegan nutrition over the last 2 years let me know & I'll try & dig them up.

The downside of losing fat quickly

OK we all know that losing fat is a good thing. But let's look at the
way we lose it. On the internet these days we can see all these "lose
20 pounds in 2 weeks" ultraspeed fat loss plans etc etc. I've always
argued that slow weight loss is the ideal goal, why... because as you
lose weight you learn about what certain foods do to your body, you
relearn how to eat properly. If you do find some miracle system that
does work, say a heavy training schedule & dietary system you go on
for month, & you achieve your goals, then what? You can't stay on an
ultra-gruelling diet & training plan forever, you'll overtrain, get
sick & not do so well at all, but what do you eat, have you learnt to
pre-pack food to take along to places where you might not find healthy
choices, have you learnt that you might be ok to eat bread AM, but in
the evening maybe it bloats you a bit & you tend to add more fat?
Have you learnt to prepare a selection of healthy meals over several
months & learnt to appreciate the new textures & flavours
available...basically you haven't got the support system in place to
keep the weight off, you've got no idea what to eat, how to train &
what to do to keep that weight off. A slower introduction to a diet
allows you to learn as you go along, so you can slowly increase the
good & decrease the bad in your diet, so by the time you reach your
goal you will have all the tools already in place to keep to that fat
level, it will already be habit! .... That was my main argument for a
slow fat loss, rather than a quick fat loss program (a well as the
fact that often quick 'fat loss' involves lean muscle loss as well in
many cases). But I have come across another rather interesting reason
to keep fat loss slow & that is 'organochlorines'. Organochlorines
are fat soluble products that are toxic to humans, we all ingest them.
As the body doesn't like them floating about they are either excreted
or stored in fat, strangely the preferred choice appears to be storing
in fat, so obviously someone with more fat stores more of these toxic
substances. Now suppose you lose a lot of fat, very quickly? Yep, a
lot of these toxins are simply dumped into the body & you can suffer
thyroid problems, skin problems, organ problems etc etc, all the
things that make dieting & reaching & maintaining your goals harder.
By dieting more slowly you actually release these chemicals at a
manageable rate, so you will not get the extreme toxicity effects that
can be associated with quick fat loss systems. I'll put the research
below for you to look at for yourself, I'll also put up a related
piece of research about athletes, lean sedentary people & fat peoples
organochlorine levels that shows that athletes have lower levels than
either lean sedentary or fat people (lean sedentary have less than fat
people, but not as low levels as athletes).
Hopefully those of you who's goals involve fat loss who are slowly
slimming down can take some comfort in the fact that you're doing
things the best way for overall health.


Obes Rev. 2003 Feb;4(1):17-24.
Energy balance and pollution by organochlorines and polychlorinated
biphenyls.Pelletier C, Imbeault P, Tremblay A.
Division of Kinesiology, PEPS, Laval University, Ste-Foy, Québec, Canada.

Organochlorines are fat-soluble chemical compounds resistant to
degradation, so they are stored in the adipose tissue of practically
every organism on the planet, including humans. Accumulation of these
compounds in the body seems to be related to fat mass, obese
individuals having a higher plasma organochlorine concentration than
lean subjects. During body weight loss, lipid mobilization and a
decrease in fat mass result in increased concentrations of
organochlorines in plasma and adipose tissue. Organochlorines may have
adverse health effects. For example, they have been associated with
altered immune and thyroid functions and with some types of cancer. As
these compounds may reach their target organs whilst in the
circulation, their increase in plasma during weight loss might be
associated with some physiological changes occurring during weight
loss. Relationships have indeed been reported among weight
loss-induced increase in plasma organochlorine concentration and
decreased triiodothyronine (T3) concentration, resting metabolic rate,
and skeletal muscle markers for fat oxidation. Although further
studies are needed to assess the causality of these relationships,
they raise concern about some potential undesirable effects of weight
loss. Indeed, the effects of organochlorines on energy balance could
complicate body weight loss and even favour weight regain. These
notions lend support for weight-loss strategies favouring a moderate
weight loss, which would reduce risks for cardiovascular diseases,
diabetes and hypertension, without resulting in a substantial release
of organochlorines.


Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002 Dec;34(12):1971-5. Links
Plasma organochlorine concentrations in endurance athletes and obese
individuals.Pelletier C, Després JP, Tremblay A.
Physical Activity Sciences Laboratory and Division of Kinesiology,
PEPS and Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Laval University,
Ste-Foy (Québec), Canada.

PURPOSE: Organochlorines are lipophilic compounds that are ingested
with food and that accumulate in adipose tissue. Their plasma
concentrations were compared in three groups of individuals with
different body fatness characteristics: endurance athletes, lean
sedentary subjects, and obese individuals. METHODS: The relationship
between body fat mass and total plasma organochlorine concentration
adjusted for age was analyzed by pooling data of sedentary lean and
obese subjects. The regression equation derived from this analysis was
also used to predict residual scores of total organochlorine
concentrations in trained individuals, which were compared to measured
values in these subjects. RESULTS: Plasma organochlorine
concentrations tended to be lower in athletes in comparison with
values measured among lean sedentary individuals. Their concentrations
were higher in obese individuals than in lean sedentary subjects and
athletes. Total plasma organochlorine concentration was positively
associated to body fat mass in the sedentary group (lean and obese
combined, reference population). CONCLUSION: Large adipose tissue
compartment such as observed in obese individuals is associated with
increased levels of circulating organochlorines, whereas leaner
sedentary and trained persons have a lower plasma concentration of
these compounds.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

weightlifter dislocates shoulder

Watch this & cringe!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Strength or cardio for health

The argument between high intensity work & aerobics still rages as to which does the best job for weight loss, but here’s a new twist.

If you do duration training or weights which do you think will lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood? Do you think it will be the duration training, an activity that due to its low intensity causes the burning of fat as its primary fuel source? Or do you believe it will be resistance training, an activity that burns primary carbs as fuel as it is so intense?

OK you know it’s going to be controversial, so I’ll get straight to it:
A study released July 08 entitled “Acute exercise-induced changes in basal VLDL-triglyceride kinetics leading to hypotriglyceridemia manifest more readily after resistance than endurance exercise.” Has the conclusion that while resistance training lowers ‘bad’ cholesterol & speeds up its removal from the blood, duration exercise does virtually nothing to the ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood...that’s right NOTHING!

I was pretty shocked by this as I honestly expected duration to come out the winner by a mile.

This is only one study & I’d like more done on the subject, but the message has to be considered that maybe, from the point of view of cholesterol control duration isn’t the way to go, while weights & maybe interval work cardio should be considered as doing a better job of lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Of course anyone starting an exercise program with cholesterol issues should consult a medical professional first & for goodness sake start off light & short, then slowly increase duration & intensity of your sessions in the gym as your conditions improve – I’d also consider a dietary overhaul as well if you really want to beat cholesterol back down to healthy levels.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Nutrition talk Brighton UK 28 August

Here's something everyone interested in nutrition should be coming along to. I've seen Doctor Greger talk before & he's good, using peer-reviewed research to draw conclusions. If you can't get to Brighton, keep an eye for him around your area (or contact him & organise a talk in your local area!). He's well worth hearing!
I've put the details below
Have a good day
The Latest In Human Nutrition
Learn about the latest cutting-edge nutrition research, focusing on studies published in the last year.
Dr. Greger offers practical advice on how best to feed ourselves and our families to prevent, treat, and even reverse chronic disease.
Thursday, 28 August 2008, 7.30 - 9.30pm
The Brighthelm Centre
North Road, Brighton BN1 1YD
Entry £5.00 includes
wine and tasty super-nutritious snacks
To reserve a place call:
01273 626987 / 07905685765
or email
Michael Greger, M.D., is Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. An internationally recognized lecturer, he has presented at the Conference on World Affairs and the National Institutes of Health, testified before the U.S. Congress, and was invited as an expert witness in defence of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "beef defamation" trial. Dr. Greger is founding member of the College of Lifestyle Medicine and a graduate of the Cornell University School of Agriculture, where he returned to teach human nutrition, and the Tufts University School of Medicine.

Friday, 18 July 2008

facebook, bebo, myspace

OK for those of you interested in these sorts of things we've got:

A facebook group - click here (I hope that's right, if not let me know!)

Bebo group - click here

& a myspace page - click here

I've also got a twitter page if you're interested in my daily adventures (well ok I don't have adventures daily, just now & again!) anyway it's here

London Vegan Festival

We got a downstairs stall for this years London vegan festival so if you can make it we'd love to see you. Although we're not having one of our official contests, we have got a little something different up our sleeves, so I would recommend you practice a little grip work before the show :-)

Friday, 25 April 2008

New research about protein synthesis during training

Research out this month once again re-enforces the earlier blog post that taking carbs AND protein during training is the best choice.
In the American journal Physiological Endocrinol metabolism 2008, Apr 22 Beelen et al from Maastricht University in the Netherlands conducted studies on the effects of muscle protein synthesis during training while taking either a carb only drink or a carb/protein drink during a 2hr resistance session. They drank every 15 minutes during the training.
The conclusion was that even in a fed state eating protein with carbs stimulated whole-body & muscle protein synthesis rates during resistance type exercise. So, you can grow during training, if you use the right nutritional approach.

Here’s a link to the research on Pubmed

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Continuing the low intensity, longer duration Vs HIIT training debate

Here's a piece I found on Tom Venuto's blog you might want to read just click here
The title of his article is a play on the results & he's not actually implying that lower intensity, longer duration training is actually 5 times more effective, just that you 'could' say that, if you played with the results.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Workout nutrition

Most of the information for this has come from the books “Power Eating” by Kleiner & “Nutrient Timing” by Ivy & Portman & I recommend everyone who has an interest buy both these books.
Studies have shown that there is a correct way to design your nutrition during training for size & strength as well as post exercise.
I thought we split this into two sections. First I’ll do a bit about nutrition during exercise.
OK, let’s first look at some things that happen when you train with weights (this occurs to varying degrees whether you train purely for strength, size or some combination):

ATP levels decrease
Muscle glycogen is partially depleted
Cortisol levels increase
Insulin levels decrease
Blood flow to muscle is increased
Protein degradation is increased
Muscle damage is increased
Immune system is suppressed
Acute inflammation response is stimulated
Fluid loss is increased

You have 4 main goals that you want to accomplish:
Sparing protein & glycogen
Limit immune suppression
Minimise muscle damage
Pre-preparing the body - so you recover (become anabolic) more quickly after your workout

Let’s look at them one by one

First sparing glycogen & protein:
By sparing glycogen you can workout harder before you deplete stores of glycogen. In one study a glucose based beverage gave an average of about 40% improvement over water while a carb/protein drink gave a massive 57% improvement over water 1

BCCA’s have been shown to be used as a fuel source, thus supplementing will spare muscle mass & one study shows that even adding protein to a carb drink given before training can increase protein synthesis after exercise 2

Cortisol appears to be the main issue when it comes to immune suppression. It would seem that higher levels of cortisol lower the concentration & activity of many immune system components. So, by keeping cortisol low while you train, you lessen the suppression of your immune system. In one study they compared a number of immune system functions & cortisol levels with & without a carbohydrate drink during training 3. Cortisol can increase by as much as five times during exercise, so you do risk immune suppression if you don’t take advantage of this fact

The next point is to reduce muscle damage. Now we all know some muscle damage tends to encourage muscle hypertrophy, but remember all damage must be repaired before any muscle increase can occur. Carbs again lower the biochemical markers of damage & one study showed this was by almost 50% 4
Supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin E & BCAA’s may also minimise muscle damage. One study found that although vitamin C & E didn’t enhance performance, they did decrease the levels of CPK an important indicator of muscle damage 5
So, in effect you’ll be pre-preparing the body for a quicker recovery by doing the above. Now, let’s get onto specifics, how much do you need. The numbers below can only be a guideline as we’re all different. Try it out, but you may find a little more or less of something makes all the difference to your training.
I’d stick with a simple carb have 20-26 grams (my choice is red grapefruit juice, it’s a high glucose fruit with all the extra bonuses you get by consuming fruit).
5-6 grams of protein (soya, pea, or hemp isolate is a good choice here)
1 gram of BCAA’s
30-120mg vit C
20-60 IU of vit E
If you sweat a lot or are doing duration cardio, then I’d also add some electrolytes, but don’t worry normally unless you want to:
100-250 mg sodium
60-100 mg potassium
60-120 mg magnesium
If you find it hard to add the vitamins, you can just have a C & E vitamin pill before training (split the pill & have the rest with you post workout drink – post workout nutrition to follow in a later post)
Sip this drink throughout your workout slowly.

1 Ivy, J.L.,P.T., Sprague, R.C.., et al., “Effect of carbohydrate-protein supplementation on endurance performance during exercise of varying intensity,” International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise metabolism, 13: 388-401, 2003
2 MacLean, D.A., Graham, T.E., and Saltin, B., “Branched-chain amino acids augment ammonia metabolism while attenuating protein breakdown during exercise,” American Journal of Physiology, 267: E1010-1022, 1994
3 Nieman, D.C., “Nutrition, exercise and immune system function,” IN: Clinicals in Sports medicine, Nutrtional Aspects of exercise. Eds. Wheeler, K.B and Lombardo, J.A. Vol. 18, 1999, p 537-538
4 Bishop, N.C.,A.K., Rand, L., et al., “Effects of carbohydrate and fluid intake on blood leukocytes to prolonged cycling,” International Journal of Sports Medicine,17: 26-27, 1999
5 Peters, E.M., Goetzsche, J.M., Grobbelaar, B., et al., “Vitamin C supplementation reduced the incidence of post-race symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection in ultra marathon runners,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57: 170-174, 1993 Rokitzki, L., Logemann, E., Huber, G., et al., “alpha-Tocopherol supplementation in racing cyclists during extreme endurance training,” International Journal of Sports Nutrition, 4: 253-264, 1994

Soaking brown rice

I have often soaked nuts & other seeds to increase their overall nutritional profile, but up until now I’ve not really looked into the pre-soaking of rice to improve its nutrition, but it seems I should have taken the time to look into this before as rice like other grains benefit from pre-soaking (rice is a grass).
The way to germinate rice is to first get hold of brown rice (preferably organic if you can), then soak it in a warm environment for 20 hours (although 20 hours is ideal, overnight will still improve the nutritional profile considerably). Using this method studies carried out by the United Nations during the year of rice (2004) found that the rice had a far superior nutritional & amino acid profile than rice that had not been soaked, it also found a much higher level of the GABA in the soaked rice (hence one of its names when sold commercially is GABA rice). 1
Once soaked, rinse & the rice can be cooked as normal.

If you’re into training & not come across GABA before here’s a brief introduction from that should give you the basics, but beyond that you get increased vitamin & mineral availability & a better overall amino acid profile, which in itself should encourage you to start planning ahead with you meals & begin soaking rice to get the most from your meals.

By the way if you are storing rice for any time after cooking it is best to cool it rapidly as this discourages Bacillus cereus, bacteria that thrives between 4-60 degrees C & can cause stomach issues.


Friday, 28 March 2008

The importance of beans

Beans have been a mainstay of the bodybuilding & strength movement for decades. During the days of Steve Reeves & the muscle beach crowd, Steve & a lot of the muscle men of the time stayed at a boarding house where the demi-vegetarian owner (who ate fish, but mainly vegetarian & allowed no meat in the house) introduced them to the wonders of beans & eating a wholefood diet.

So, you can look good eating beans, but what about strength. Now, Bob Hoffman has a thing or two to say about beans:

“... but the beans we have-elaborate foods such as broiled lobster, caviar, or quail on toast must take a secondary position when these beans are around. And the beans have played an important part in the success of our world’s strongest weight lifting team too...”

Hoffman, Bob. Better Nutrition-for strength & health seeker, Strength & Health Publishing Co. 1940, P. 60

A quick story about Steve Stanko pulling an American record of 345 pounds in the clean & jerk during his first year of competition:

Steve walked over to Bob & said “Bob, if I put 345 pounds overhead, do I get a dinner of some of those beans Gracie makes?” Naturally Bob agreed & so Steve went up & put overhead 17 ½ pounds above his own previous record for a new US record, so that day he got his dinner of beans!

Again from: Hoffman, Bob. Better Nutrition-for strength & health seeker, Strength & Health Publishing Co. 1940, P. 60

So as you can see the old-timers whether training for strength or physique used beans as part of their diet, so you should consider them as well.
As well as cooking with beans you might want to consider sprouting them as a great addition to a salad, they can also be used to make paté or spreads as well as the more traditional stews, soups, chilli or countless other dishes you can add beans to.
You if you want to be “Full of beans”, then get full of beans!

Monday, 24 March 2008

Free Sandow books

Sandow was the Arnold of his era. The man who brought exercise (physical culture in his day) to the masses.
He was a strongman & did poses in the classic greek style.
I stumbled across a couple of his books (in ebook form) on the net & thought some of you might want to download them as they're free.
You can download them:




Simply right click on the icons & "save as" to where ever you prefer on your computer.
I haven't read them myself yet, but hopefully they'll be a good read!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Before & after shots

You’ve all seen the ‘amazing’ transformations in those adverts. Fat boy into cut man in a couple of weeks. What an amazing product! Look, the proof’s right there with the photos, & we all know pictures never lie...or do they? Have a look at this site where a guy shows you his instant before & after shots...
Click here
Cameras do lie, so do adverts, use some sense, if it really looks too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true. To get strong & a decent physique is quite slow & takes hard work, sweat & consistency. Unfortunately, basic exercises, hard work & consistency doesn’t really sell in today’s ‘now’ society. Everyday, every meal, every training session is a small pigeon-step towards our goals. After several years you’ll be a new person, either for better or worse the choice is yours...

Friday, 29 February 2008

Slightly more on Interval Vs Duration training

I had a few people say how I was ‘against’ interval style training, & I ‘only believed’ in duration style cardio to burn fat. Nothing is further from the truth!
Right I’ll give you some facts about duration training Vs interval style training; also some stuff about strength training Vs aerobic training for fat loss. Then to get a fuller picture we’ll look at the ‘why’s & wherefores’ they may have the results they got & other factors we need to consider.

First off aerobic style training Vs interval training.

There are several studies that show that interval training is equal to or (in some ways) superior to continuous duration aerobic training
J Sci Med Sport. 2007 Jun 19 [Epub ahead of print] Links
The effects of interval-exercise duration and intensity on oxygen consumption during treadmill running.O'brien BJ, Wibskov J, Knez WL, Paton CD, Harvey JT.
Eur J Appl Physiol. 2007 Oct;101(3):377-83. Epub 2007 Jul 28. Links
Improvement of VO2max by cardiac output and oxygen extraction adaptation during intermittent versus continuous endurance training.Daussin FN, Ponsot E, Dufour SP, Lonsdorfer-Wolf E, Doutreleau S, Geny B, Piquard F, Richard R.
CHRU of Strasbourg, Physiology and Functional Explorations Department, Civil Hospital, BP 426, 67091, Strasbourg, France.

& other studies that show strength training Vs aerobics where strength training appears superior to aerobics:

Geliebter A, Mahler MM, Gerace L, Gutin B, Heymsfield SB, Hashim SA.
Effects of strength or aerobics training on body composition, resting metabolic rate, and peak oxygen consumption in obese dieting subjects
Am J clinical nutr. 1997 Sept;66(3):557-63
bryner RW, Ullrich IH, Sauers J, Donley D, Hornsby G, Kolar M, yeater R.
Effects of resistance Vs aerobic training combined with an 800 calorie liquid diet on lean body mass and resting metabolic rate.
J Am Coll nutr. 1999 Apr;18(2):115-21

Aerobic group: 4 hours per week
resistance training group: 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps. 10 exercises, three time a week

Now, as interval training can be seen as a form of anaerobic exercise would it not appear that interval training is the best way to go in terms of time usage & results?
Well again, it’s not quite so simple. When we’re building a complete training package, we have to cover many factors. One of the most obvious being if we weight train (an anaerobic activity) how will that impact upon recovery if we also include other anaerobic activity (such as interval sprints). The second is every type of training has a specific effect, so interval training increases blood flow to, & from, the skeletal muscle & encourages waste product removal, while longer duration training encourages capillary growth & mitochondria proliferation, also fat storage within the muscle (as fuel-this is not noticeable surface fat, but held deep within the muscle cells near to the mitochondria for quick utilisation) & other physiological factors that can improve health.
If you’re doing a heavy workout program with weights (say 3 or more times a week) & also doing hard interval cardio (3 or more times a week), you are, in effect, doubling the amount of anaerobic recovery you need to do, this could be too much for some athletes. Also you may be missing out on some benefits you get from longer duration aerobic training. Longer duration – lower intensity exercise can be seen as ‘active recovery’ & so actually aid the body heal & repair from intense workouts with weights.
We also have some training 'gurus' out there now touting the idea that duration style aerobic activity doesn't aid in fat loss (or indeed benefit you at all). Anyone who’s spent any time within the bodybuilding scene knows this simply is not true, at least for a trained individual. It may be, that getting from high levels of fat to moderate levels may be more efficient using interval alone, verses aerobics alone, but I’m not sure there has even been studies of weight training, plus interval & ancillary training Vs weight training, plus aerobic & ancillary training, but that is the system that appears to work for most bodybuilders (whose primary goal is holding on to maximum muscle mass, while cutting maximum body fat). My observation has been that combinations of training approaches is superior to either all aerobic or all anaerobic & stating that aerobics is inferior is incorrect. It functions differently to interval style training & may not cause the same increase in EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), but has many advantageous benefits that should not be overlooked in the rush to embrace interval training as ‘the answer’ to cardiovascular health & fat loss.

So, as you can see program design needs a little thought to avoid overdoing any one style of training & impeding recovery.
Next time we’ll look at the options for building a program using weights, interval & duration training. We’ll also follow on by looking at flexibility & mobility, their differences & how we can include those into our training in later posts.